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France launches sustainable city project in Wuhan

“France cannot be successful alone.” This is essentially the message delivered on November 25th, by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius and his Special Representative in China, Martine Aubry, presenting the first draft of a sustainable city in this great emerging country, which has been entrusted to France and its businesses.

This large urban development site will be on the periphery of Wuhan, a city well known by French companies in the Hubei province in central eastern China. Formalized a few months ago, this iconic Franco-Chinese initiative is all the more important as France will host the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 (December), which is expected some 20,000 delegates, 20,000 guests and 3,000 journalists.

Faced with China’s ambassador in Paris, Zhai Jun, Laurent Fabius has, however praised the recent agreement signed by Beijing and Washington on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Evoking the future sustainable city of Wuhan, the minister spoke of “impressive project from design to completion.” “Wuhan has ambitions in transportation, waste treatment, heating, environment,” stated, in turn, Martine Aubry. But it is above, according to the mayor of Lille, an initiative that goes far beyond the simple construction of modern infrastructure and quality: buildings, train station, etc. “We will demonstrate our ability to combine the French expertise and experience to the Chinese culture.”

She then announced, “Chinese and French, we all think together, right now, at the best way for people to meet in the city, to cross our respective traditions”. This is also to ensure the “diversified functions”, mixing offices and housing, and therefore the “social mix,” said the Special Representative in China.

As for China, France has also politically mobilized itself collectively     

The Bank of China will provide in the province of Hubei credit lines capped for now at 1.2 billion euros. This only the first part of 30 km2, since the total project includes 100 km2, said Martine Aubry, who also indicated that other Chinese cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing, were also “interested in developing new neighborhoods.”

The success of the French global offer was possible, according to the mayor of Lille, by the fact that companies like Veolia, Suez, Keolis and Alstom, have shown their willingness to unite despite their rivalry.

As for China, France has also politically mobilized itself collectively. Thus, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that he will lay down the first foundation stone of the sustainable city site with Martine Aubry, despite of her critics of the policy of the Prime Minister in France. The head of government is to visit China early next year and the Chinese one would go to France in the first half of 2015.

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DATE December 1, 2014
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